By Doug Porter
A man and his wife shot up a San Bernadino county employee holiday party yesterday, killing 14 people and wounding 21 more. Police caught up with them a few hours later driving a black SUV. A gunfight ensued. Both the shooters were killed. A police officer suffered a non-life-threatening injury. CNN is reporting this morning the perpetrators may have been ‘radicalized.’
Another day, another mass shooting, defined as four or more victims wounded or killed by gunfire. Earlier in the day, four people were shot in Georgia, one of whom died. In the past week, there have been six mass shootings. There have been twenty days so far in 2015 with four or more mass shootings. The U.S. has seen 355 mass shootings so far in 2015. Like I said, just another day.
Meanwhile, gun sales are going up, according to NBC News. There were more gun background checks on this year’s Black Friday than any other single day on record: 185,345, according to the FBI. That’s up five percent from Black Friday last year when there were 175,754 background checks. If past shooting events are any indicator, December will be a very profitable month for the arms industry.
Reactions: The Usual Drivel
President Obama told CBS News:
“We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world, and there’s some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently, common-sense gun safety laws, stronger background checks.”
San Diego County Democratic Chair Francine Busby issued a statement, noting she wished she could say she was shocked by events in San Bernadino but this sorts of incidents are becoming commonplace.
From the Times of San Diego:
Busby said it was time attention and resources are focused to protect “American lives at home with the same determination that we do abroad.”
“It is time for our leaders to stand up, grow a collective backbone, and organize to defeat the gun lobby and bring about commonsense reforms that would save lives,” she said.
“When our hopes are not enough, our voices and our votes are the only way to stop this madness.”
Republicans want everyone to get mental health help on their own dime as soon as they get through praying for the victims, survivors and first responders. And if you’re not praying, then you’re part of the War on Christianity. Teahadists are blaming jihadists because the shooters were Muslims, even if they weren’t refugees.
Carly Fiorina was first out of the gate to accuse the President and Hillary Clinton of politicizing the event.
As expected, the tin foil hat set is saying what happened in San Bernadino is a “false flag operation” designed to a)take your guns away b)declare martial law or c)shift attention away from another much more important conspiracy.
San Diego GOP Chair Tony Krvaric’s Twitter account was inactive yesterday.
What We Think We Know About San Bernadino
There’s so much crap thrown around during one of these tragedies, it’s a real challenge to report actual facts. (And I’ll update this report as needed over the 24 hours.)
Take, for example, the existence of a mysterious third shooter. He/She has disappeared from the radar, probably because there weren’t three people. Inflated numbers of perpetrators are just about a given for these types of events lately.
One arrest was made following a massive house-to-house search by heavily armed police. Last night, Chief Jarrod Burguan of the San Bernadino PD, told the New York Times that it wasn’t clear that the person taken into custody was involved. Today, we learn he wasn’t.
From the UK Telegraph:
Suspects Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik appear to have met online before Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet, and marry, Malik.
(NOTE: Reports this morning say she was here with a Pakistani passport.)
Farook had profiles on at least two dating sites, according to the Associated Press. He described himself on one as coming from a “religious but modern family”.
He said he occasionally read religious books, worked on vintage cars, and enjoyed going to restaurants. He wrote that he was born in Chicago, from Karachi, Pakistan, and living in Los Angeles as an American citizen.
The couple had a six-month-old daughter, which they left with Farook’s mother on the morning of the shooting.
An earlier widely circulated fake report on the name of the second shooter was debunked after some bright reporter realized they it was the name of Turkey’s president.
Right-wing outlets, including Fox News are reporting that the couple wore GoPro cameras as they carried out their assault. All those accounts are also calling the shooters a “Muslim couple.” That’s fair, as long as they call last week’s Planned Parenthood gunman a “Christian.”
Multiple reports say an angry Farook left a Christmas party held in a room at the Inland Regional Center. He picked up his wife, dropped the baby off with his mother, and reappeared, armed with .223-caliber DPMS Model A15, Smith and Wesson M&P15 assault rifles, along with two semi-automatic pistols. The guns, according to BATF, were purchased legally.
Reports this morning from San Bernadino say the couple had stockpiled ammunition and a dozen pipe bombs were found at their home.
They were reportedly wearing body armor, ski masks, and camouflaged outfits. Authorities were quick to point out this as an indication some premeditation was involved. Not being talked about is that chase involving the suspects SUV began at their residence. (Maybe they thought nobody would notice?)
Rant: What Can Be Done About Mass Shootings?
Here’s the deal. The gun industry gets all the glory as images of militarized police squads and tearful relatives dominate reporting on shooting tragedies. The news industry has a self-imposed ban on showing the actual harm, the gaping wounds, and the dead bodies.
An NBC chopper live camera shot from San Bernadino yesterday wouldn’t give a wide shot of the scene of the final showdown because, we were told, there was a covered body of one of the suspects nearby.
So, in effect, there’s no downside (other than liberal hand-wringing) to mass murders. It’s good for business in a world where the marketplace has replaced morality.
Do you want to turn the public against gun violence? Show actual real blood and guts on TV.
I’m sure that idea will go over with network executives as well a comedy featuring pedophiles. So maybe we need to make campaign posters for NRA stooges, showing gaping wounds and the number of dollars given by the NRA.
And, if it turns out these were radical Muslims, maybe we should consider easing off on our national love affair with the Saudi government. That won’t happen, either.
What Else Can Be Done?
Yesterday morning physician groups delivered a petition to the Congress, signed by more than US 2,000 doctors seeking a reversal of a 20-year ban that prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research on gun violence.
From The Hill:
Amid growing pressure to reverse a ban on gun control research, a former Republican lawmaker now says he has regrets about writing the provision blocking studies.
In a letter released Wednesday, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) disavowed his efforts two decades ago to block gun control research.
“Back in [the 1990s], I took part in cutting off gun violence research dollars at the federal level because of what was considered a misapplication of the dollars by the CDC. I have recently expressed my regrets that we didn’t continue that research,” Dickey wrote in a letter released Wednesday by House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).
As President Obama noted yesterday, people on the terrorism “no-fly” list can and do legally purchase guns in the United States. (And yes, I know, just about anybody can end up on that list, regardless of their beliefs or actions)
House Speaker Paul Ryan has balked at supporting legislation crafted by California Senator Diane Feinstein closing that loophole.
From the Associated Press:
According to a March analysis by the Government Accountability Office, people on the FBI’s consolidated Terrorist Watchlist successfully passed the background check required to purchase firearms more than 90 percent of the time, with more than 2,043 approvals between 2004 and 2014. The office is an investigative branch of Congress.
The FBI is notified when a background check for the purchase of firearms or explosives generates a match with the watch list, and agents often use that information to step up surveillance on terror suspects. Under current federal law, however, association with a terrorist organization doesn’t prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives.
Follow the Money Past the NRA
The National Rifle Association represents a minority of gun owners. Other, more radical, gun groups represent wanna-be right wing terrorists.
While I’m not opposed to making NRA contributions to politicians a negative kind of litmus test, an idea that seems to have gained followers on social media in recent days, I think it’s time to go up the money chain.
Lee Fang at The Intercept followed that money chain, through the retailers, to the manufacturers, and finally to the Wall Street financiers who make the flood of armaments possible.
The Intercept reviewed investor transcripts for gun companies, ammunition manufacturers, and sporting stores, and found many instances of industry executives discussing mass shooting incidents and the resulting political dynamics as lucrative.
Here’s how it works. Following a mass shooting, there is talk of gun control, which the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates attack as an assault on the Second Amendment. Notably, gun and ammunition manufacturers often donate, either directly or as a portion of each sale, to the NRA. The fear of losing gun rights leads to panic buying, which brings greater profits to gun retailers, gun companies and their investors.
And this anecdote kinda says it all:
Last year, Tommy Millner, the chief executive of Cabela’s, a retailer that sells guns, boasted at an investor conference in Nebraska that his company made a “conscious decision” to stock additional weapons merchandise before the 2012 election, hoping Obama’s reelection would result in increased sales. After the election, the Newtown mass shooting happened, and “the business went vertical … I meant it just went crazy,” Millner said, according to a transcript of the event. Describing the “tailwinds of profitability,” Millner noted Cabela’s “didn’t blink as others did to stop selling AR-15 platform guns,” and so his company “got a lot of new customers.” The AR-15 is a high-powered assault rifle based on the military’s M-16 model but without the full automatic capacity.
Finally, there was this piece at the Daily Kos:
We can argue the philosophical merits of gun regulation, we can expand or shrink the sociopolitical, and yet we will end up exactly where we are. It is sadly too late for all that. Ideology gets us nowhere. We will meet here again, probably tomorrow. We will keep meeting—same time, same place.
I’m watching a live stream of the local news, where a bewildered reporter tries to swallow his tears. It’s raining outside, and clear across the country in California there are a dozen dead bodies, each end brought by bullets. Parents are calling frantic, hoping that their child is alive. At this moment right now, survivors are just embarking on a long journey of pain, guilt, trauma, regret, flashbacks. The loss is tangible. The pain is forever.
But you still have your guns! So It’s all worth it to you. You have to remind yourself. Go ahead, say it out loud—”Those deaths are worth it to me.” Days like today, you have to remind yourself that this is the cause you are (literally, chances are) willing to die for. Is it worth it?
On This Day: 1969 – John Lennon was asked to play the title role in “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” The offer was revoked the next day. 1984 – At least four thousand people die, and as many as 20,000, in one of the largest industrial disasters on record. It happened in Bhopal, India, when poisonous methyl isocyante was released into the atmosphere at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant. The results of investigations by Union Carbide and the government were never released to the public; one authoritative independent study laid blame at the feet of Union Carbide for its failures on training, staffing, safety and other issues. 1999 – The World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded a four-day meeting in Seattle, WA, without setting an agenda for a new round of trade talks. The meeting was met with fierce protests by various groups.
UPDATES- Number of wounded, per Reuters, has increased to 21.
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